Unclean Cuisine

by Rachel on May 12, 2010

A couple weeks ago, this book showed up at my house via a friendly PR company.

Clean, Green, and Lean: Get Rid of the Toxins That Make You Fat. Hmmm…aaight! I’ll take a look!

Well I read the book and honestly, the “Green” in the title is a very clear tie to the “Green” zone that I’ve written about before. And it’s a zone that I know that a lot of us aren’t in it yet. It’s not that I don’t think this book has merit…but I’m just not there yet. I can’t quite think about the toxins in the paint on my walls right now. I know I should and that someday I will, but I’m just not there. It’s not that I don’t believe it; it’s just such a huge deep topic, and I’ll be honest…when I start reading about phalates, I just fall apart, even more so than I did in my college Econ classes (classes plural, cause I failed the first one). If you are into that stuff, and can read the names of chemicals without feeling like clawing your own eyes out with frustration/crying your eyes out for our poor planet…then you are awesome. And you will probably like this book!

And let us know how that colonic goes.

But if you are not, there are still some good tips in this book, such as a list of the dirty dozen veggies and fruits and reminders about toxins in seafood, meat, dairy, and such. But there was one thing about this book that I really wanted to share because I think it’s something we should all be aware of even if we aren’t “green” and it’s something I hadn’t really considered before.

When discussing common toxins, the issue of BPA and plastic comes up. Now, a lot of us gave up our Nalgenes when BPA got a bad rap a few years ago. But this book made me think on it some more. The author discusses a recent test on “microwave-safe” containers and writes,

“When the label on a plastic container says it’s microwave safe, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t contaminate food with plastic during microwaving — it means the plastic container won’t melt during the microwave session.”

Uhhh….shit. So what does it mean?

It means that even if the container doesn’t melt, apparently, during microwaving, the plastic molecules bounce all around like dodge balls in my gym class circa 1994. And just like a dodge ball was bound to hit you at some point, some plastics bounce into your food.

Now, plastics are one of those things that we don’t really know how bad they are. Hey, maybe eating plastic is fine. Maybe it doesn’t disrupt our hormonal systems or cause premature sexual development in young girls. I’m willing to bet the peops at Stouffer’s will argue that plastics are perfectly healthy and even beneficial. Plastic boosts fertility! Before you know it, plastic trays are going to have added fiber and calcium! Probiotics in your Lean Cuisine tray!!!

But to me, this is one place I’ll err on the side of caution and file this under one more really good reason to avoid processed foods.

It’s like, now aside from the sodium, now we have to think about plastic? No fucking thank you; I don’t need that frozen meal. Aside from all the chemicals they pack, even “healthy” processed foods often come in those flimsy-ass trays. And um who hasn’t overcooked one and seen the tray cave in a bit into her food?! Damnit. Mac and cheese and melted plastic. Great.

I don’t even care if plastic is making us fat…I just can’t imagine it’s not making us sick.

I’ve talked so many times about making your own frozen dinners and this is another great reminder of why you should. It’s so easy to do! And if you must store them in plastic, fine. But then just thaw them on a plate. (I’m trying to find better ways to store my food just to cut down on my plastic use overall…any suggestions for freezing??)

I don’t expect everyone to be all green all the time. I know most of us aren’t there yet. But we do know that frozen meals are neither cheaper nor healthier than real food, and now we know that they are pretty much jizzing plastic in our imitation fettuccine. And that’s an image I’d like you to keep in your mind as your microwave spins your dinner right round.

PS If you want someone to give it to you a little more harshly please read “Hey Stouffers! Fuck You In Your Fucking Toasted Asshole You Fucking Dicks!” I quote: “Food in a box is straight up bullshit, fuck that poison. Sandwiches are fucking delicious and easy as fuck to make. If you support this garbage then your idiot ass can fuck off too.”

You get the idea.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikki May 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

Great article!
Do you think Pyrex is a better option for food storage? I just pitched my old snapware tupperware set for the Pyrex stuff, and at least curry dishes don’t leave any traces behind on the glass. They still have plastic lids, but when microwaving, I don’t keep the lids on. I usually stick a paper towel over top if necessary.
However, I haven’t freezed anything in them though. Now, that just made me think about freezer bags that I have used for fruits (for smoothies) recently. =/
Dammit everything’s plastic.

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2 Amy B @ Second City Randomness May 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

I had heard before that microwaving plastic can get chemicals into our food… and have strayed away from Lean Cuisine because of that and the overly processed halfway crap food that is given to you. But now that the phrase “jizzing plastic” is stuck in my head, I think the transition will be complete sooner than later…
.-= Amy B @ Second City Randomness´s last blog ..Blintz Bliss =-.

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3 Kendra May 12, 2010 at 11:51 am

Ugh… I always knew that lean cuisine was wrong on so many levels. I love that more books like this are are coming out and increasing awareness.

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4 Scott from YourInnerSkinny May 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm

A lot of people don’t get that microwaves use those waves in which are micro, to move the molecules in your food back and forth VERY fast which causes friction and it heats the food from the inside out.

Think back to The Karate Kid (the original, not this remake crap) and think about when Mr. Miyagi slapped his hands together and rubbed them really fast and now think about how hot your hands got when you tried to imitate him (we’ve all done it). That’s how your food is heated, but instead of your hands, it’s the molecules in your food.

Now, do you honestly think that plastic doesn’t have those same types of molecules in them (they do!)? Do you think they’re special and don’t move from those same waves (they’re not!)? This is what you have to be careful about… Those molecules getting in your food, it’s THOSE molecules that’ll make you sick.

Side note: I don’t think I’ve used the word “molecule” that many times in my life until now.

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5 Katie May 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Nikki– A lot of the plastic leaching happens as the plastic warms up with the food in it, I’m guessing freezing stuff in plastic is fine. The plastic molecules get all this energy from the heat and start to bounce around like Rachel said so freezing is definitely better than heating since the molecules don’t have enough energy to break out of the structure. Glass pyrex has a way different structure and unless you break the glass into shards, you won’t be eating any gourmet glass any time soon.

Anyway, I kind of want to read this book and then read their references/ find counter arguments. Science nerd over hurrr. If you couldn’t tell from above :/. Plastic leaching is nasty!!

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6 Olivia May 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Hi! I’m new to your blog, but that books sounds like a great read. I still eat Lean Cuisines once and awhile but I’m realizing that frozen meals aren’t always the best option. Thanks for sharing :)
.-= Olivia´s last blog ..Paper Trail =-.

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7 shelby @ eatdrinkrun May 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Jizzing plastic – love it!

Honestly, I haven’t owned a microwave for the last few years – not because I’m so awesome and green or whatever, but because I haven’t had the counter space for one. I don’t miss it – or nasty frozen dinners – AT ALL.

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8 melissa cari May 12, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I totally agree with everything you wrote here – from the toxins being slightly overkill to plastic dinners being awful for us. However, when I talk to people about getting healthy, its hard to bridge this topic right away. I think I’m at a similar “level” as you are with food (at least from what I can tell from your blog!), but most people (as in, my entire family) aren’t there yet and the ‘plastic toxins’ to them are the same as the ‘paint toxins’ to us. Does that make sense?? I guess its just always best to promote eating whole foods…if only Gala apples and Navel oranges could have a multimillion dollar marketing campaign behind them! One can dream…

Side note – my friend recently got a few colonics before her wedding…said she felt amazing (not during obv haha, but after)…so I guess we shouldn’t knock it til we try it?! Not sure I could ever go there though!

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9 Rachel May 12, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Melissa — that TOTALLY makes sense. I actually wrote that earlier but then took it out because I felt like I was getting off topic. But I do think about that…because I guess that I wish that a “paint toxin” person would explain it to me like I try to explain aspartame to people, you know?? Because thus far, I haven’t found a “green” blog or book that I can really relate to who can really help me get to that next level! And I wish I could!!

I almost didn’t say the thing about colonics cause I was like, “I totally am going to be eating my words in a year when I get on THAT bandwagon..” :) Anyway thanks for the thoughtful comment!!

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10 Kim @ LEO the lion says GER May 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm

“they are pretty much jizzing plastic in our imitation fettuccine. ”

I love you.
.-= Kim @ LEO the lion says GER´s last blog ..Push It Real Good =-.

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11 Lyndsey May 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

I have to admit I was once a Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine addict. I mean this used to be an everyday, some time multiple meals situation. Now it’s fresh veggies and home cooked meals all the way. Talk about a change in energy, through the roof. Also my skin is super clear now… wonder if any relation. But I second your notion “Stuff it Stouffers!”

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